Pepe Parra of 2Heads Global Design tells us how its team of thinkers, planners, and makers, design live events, virtual experiences, and unique digital tools.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pepe Parra: My family and I are very fortunate in that we are all well and healthy and have so far not been touched physically by the pandemic. Apart from home-schooling and a semi-sense of ground-hog day, we are all getting along pretty well, too, which is lucky!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded 2Heads Global Design.
Pepe Parra: My career is almost 100% 2Heads Global Design. I first formed the company back in 1983, albeit under a different name, and have seen the company evolve with every technological advancement and economic challenge. It’s hard to explain just how far the world of brand experience and communication has come; from trade fairs to experiential activations to virtual events, we’ve had to accept constant change and be flexible in our adaptation.
How does 2Heads Global Design innovate?
Pepe Parra: Technology is key for us. We’ve managed to stay ahead of the curve because we’ve always invested in the latest technological trends. 2Heads first live-streamed event took place in 2000, way before proper infrastructure could support regular online conferencing. We saw the opportunity, however, and knew what the future could look like, investing in the right tech solutions as they become available.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pepe Parra: 2Heads is a brand experiential agency, and most of our work with blue-chip brands such as Disney and Bombardier took place at physical events. Global events and travel slowed down overnight, with the majority of the big B2B shows postponed to 2022. We were fortunate in that we’d already started working on hybrid events with our client Airbus, winning several awards for twinning the physical world with the digital. We also have EventHive, an event toolkit platform developed over ten years. This became a new source of revenue for us as brands required a virtual experience tool that could host meaningful events online. A lot of current work is now digital content and online communication strategies.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pepe Parra: I don’t think there is a small, medium, or large business that has not had to make difficult choices these last 18 months, and most of those choices sit around staff and their well-being. The global events industry received very little support, and so we had to pivot, reinventing the agency to create new business opportunities. It was tough, but the main lesson we learned is that being nimble, agile, and open to changing our business model when necessary is the key to survival.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pepe Parra: Our peers are agencies like George P Johnson, Jack Morton, and Imagination, and fortunately, our market is broad with opportunities for all who have embraced a hybrid future of digital and live events. Certainly, for the events and experience industry to remain viable, we all need to embrace a more sustainable approach with digital twins of the physical written into an inclusive brief.
Your final thoughts?
Pepe Parra: I know it’s hard in the middle of a downturn to see the light. However, I’ve worked through four major economic crashes, and I know that with grit, determination, and business acumen, your company can survive. Difficult and painful choices may need to be made, but if you hold true to your original focus for the business, you will survive and come back stronger on the other side.
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